Accreditation Corner Leading the Charge for Quality Improvement in Health Care By Accreditation Canada International
In the words of W. Edwards Deming, Scientist and productivity specialist, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Within a health care accreditation framework, the term “quality improvement” relates to each and every element that makes up an organization: programs, services, processes, leadership, environment, safety culture, and approach to staff, clients, and patients.
One fundamental principle underlies how Accreditation Canada International assesses a health service organization’s programs and helps enhance them, a focus on quality improvement. Whether we are assessing an organization’s information management processes or its approach to patient care, quality improvement is always at the forefront.
This helps ensure that an Accreditation Canada International client organization, be it a hospital in Saudi Arabia or a clinic in the Caribbean, offers the best quality service possible. It also means that the organization itself, including its leadership and its staff, have the tools to operate and be duly recognized as a leader among health care service providers.
Demonstrating the same commitment to ongoing quality improvement that it expects of its client organizations, Accreditation Canada International is developing a new accreditation program for release in the first quarter of 2010.
Accreditation Canada International’s new program underlines even more strongly than before the critical importance of quality in health care. Vital quality dimensions and associated quality indicators are fully integrated into the program’s standards and goal statements. As a result, when an organization complies with a particular goal statement, it demonstrates that it has successfully addressed the key issue of quality, among other elements essential to health care excellence such as patient safety.
Accreditation Canada International and Quality Improvement
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since 1990 the number of accreditation programs around the world has doubled every five years. The WHO anticipates that this trend will continue as accreditation’s role in promoting quality improvement in health care receives more and more recognition.
A unique approach to quality improvement is what cements Accreditation Canada International as one of the leaders in international health services accreditation. With over a decade of international experience, and over half a century of health care accreditation experience in Canada to draw upon, Accreditation Canada International steadfastly believes that employees play a vital role in the success of any organization. We hold this to be as true of our client organizations as it is for our own.
The Fundamentals of Success: Teamwork, Communication, Worklife
Accreditation Canada International knows that in order to improve the quality of an organization, all of its members need to be involved, including the CEO, board members, and front-line and support services staff. Everyone must believe in the ongoing benefits of assessing and taking concrete steps to improve quality. Achieving organization-wide commitment to quality improvement is greatly facilitated by three factors: strong teamwork, clear and effective communication, and a superior quality of worklife.
Teamwork begins well before Accreditation Canada International surveyors arrive on-site at a client organization to conduct their assessment. Accreditation Canada International helps organizations integrate the concepts of accreditation and quality improvement into daily operations through self-assessment, priority setting, action planning, and monitoring results. The development of strong teams is an important component of this process.
Through the self-assessment, a client organization develops an inventory of its strengths and areas where improvement is required. Self-assessment is a structured process where staff members assess current performance against standards by completing questionnaires, identifying areas of strength, and developing and prioritizing action plans to address opportunities for improvement.
So, from the very beginning of our accreditation process, the importance of teamwork is crucial, not only within the organization being assessed, but also among members of the organization and Accreditation Canada International staff and surveyors.
Communication is another vital part of accreditation. Sharing ideas and concerns among all staff members is essential to making the accreditation process an organization-wide effort. Accreditation Canada International’s surveyors, all of whom possess Canadian health care experience and training, and our knowledgeable support staff are integral to facilitating communication during the accreditation process.
Our Accreditation Specialists are the first point of contact for organizations seeking information, advice, and support. They provide, among other things, answers to questions client organizations may have about standards, accreditation processes and procedures, and navigating the online client portal that is used to track progress.
Once an organization completes the self-assessment, surveyors assess the organization’s programs and services against standards of excellence. Surveyors submit their findings to Accreditation Canada International via an online portal, which ensures confidentiality, creates an electronic record of the data, and guarantees that all parties involved in the evaluation process are working with the same information.
To further complement Accreditation Canada International’s full service accreditation program, a technical support team is also available to organizations should they encounter problems online. And as part of its consultation services, Accreditation Canada International offers its expertise in applying technology to improve quality monitoring and accreditation. Information and communications technology consultation can include a review and enhancement of a current automated system, or the development of a new one.
Quality of Worklife
Quality of worklife, which is as crucial as teamwork and communication in quality improvement efforts, can be essentially defined as the state of wellness in a work environment.
Physically, emotionally, and psychologically healthy staff members make a healthy workplace, and our organization recognizes this. And, in acknowledgement of the crucial link between a healthy workplace and quality of service, Accreditation Canada International counts quality of worklife among its fundamental Quality Dimensions.
Accreditation Canada International is committed to promoting, not only within its own organization but also with all of its clients, the development and protection of one of the most important resources an organization has — its staff.
Once a health services organization embarks on the accreditation journey and embraces the concepts of teamwork, communication, and quality of worklife, it is well positioned to become a leader among its peers.
Our organization has embraced these fundamentals of success. This is why Accreditation Canada International is a frontrunner in international health services accreditation.
At Accreditation Canada International, our commitment to quality improvement in health care is evident in our globally recognized standards of excellence, and by our collaboration with fellow quality-oriented health care organizations and committees. When assessing our own operations, we apply the same rigorous evaluation processes we use to assess and support our client organizations.
To learn more about Accreditation Canada International programs, education opportunities, consultation services, or organizations we have accredited around the world, visit www.accreditation.ca or e-mail International@accreditation.ca.